Beef Takes Flight

When last year I began scouring the state for farms which raise heritage meats, an adventure which involved a number of farm visits, I was–at first–disappointed when they would send me home with “mere” ground beef (what I wanted was a cut of top sirloin or even a ribeye, see). My tune quickly changed when I started grilling and eating the burgers (in fact, I started whistling dixie). The first ground beef to be tried was from a culled Highland cow harvested at around four years of age (the practice of culling is to take an animal out of circulation because it is no longer deemed useful to the herd). That burger of Highland beef numbered among the top three beef experiences of my life (for the full story, see A Third Pillar in the Parthenon of Beef). In fact, if you consider the flavor of the beef alone, I do not hesitate to say that the burger was vastly preferable to a tenderloin of conventional beef, an entree that graces the menu of many of the country’s Prime steakhouses to the tune of $50 or more.

In April of this year, ground of Highland beef was shipped down to one of my brothers in Texas as part of a shipping experiment (could our packaging maintain a couple days’ travel in summer conditions?). My cooking instructions to him encouraged the sparse use of condiments. Incredulously, he gave it a try, which lead to a series of text messages:

[Brother]: “I can’t lie–we got the condiments out of the fridge and had them on the counter standing by. When the meat was done cooking we cut a little piece off and tasted it plain to test the flavor. The condiments immediately went back into the fridge. I never had a burger with just the meat and the bun…never. [My wife] and I agreed that it was, no joke, the best hamburger meat we’ve ever had. I still can’t believe it was as good as it was.”

[Author]: “Everyone tells me how good it is but I still get nervous whenever someone new tries it. You just had the Glenlivet 12 of burger.”

[Brother]: “I would say more like 18 year. The stuff tasted like candy.”

That last part, comparing the Highland beef burger to an 18 Year old Scotch, still brings a tear to my eye.

If I were a prophet, my message would be this: those used to conventional beef just don’t know how good beef can be. Last month, my wife and I sat down to a dinner of a flight of beef (a sampling of pasture-raised burger from three different farms). Much to my chagrin, she ended up dipping some of the burger in a pool of ketchup (a prophet is never accepted in his home town but especially not under the same roof).

Yesterday, Duba & Company introduced what I hope will become one of our best sellers: the Flight of Beef. It’s an inexpensive way to try great beef, heritage beef. It features ground beef from the three farms representative of our current inventory. Think of it as a way to verify what we’ve been saying all along: that one can taste the terroir of pasture-raised beef. Pasture-raised beef from Middleville, Michigan, tastes different from pasture-raised beef from Three Rivers, Michigan. Interestingly enough, it does seem that similarities exist in the flavor profile of beef from the same breed of cattle that come from different terroirs: there’s a difference in taste but some underlying similarity. You’ll be able to taste this phenomena, as well, in our Beef Flight. The flight features three, one pound packages of ground beef, each individually packaged and containing information about the terroir, the age of the animal at harvest, and the length of its dry aging.

For more information, please visit our Flight of Beef product page by clicking here.

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